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let’s talk about foster care

i’m going to tell you how foster care came to be for us and then next post i will tackle the questions i received on my instagram post.

 

In 2016 i asked craig to seriously consider us becoing foster parents.
i have always had a heart for children.
i was a busy babysitter in my teens.
i was a nanny for awhile and i had my own daycare way back when my first two kids were little.
i remember the first time i put a baby to sleep by myself – i was probably 10 years old and i was so proud!
growing up I had dreams of having a BIG family filled with biological kids and adopted kids.
“big family” to me back then meant 10 – 12 children.
not kidding.
i drew pictures of them… i named all of them… i thought about it all the time.
fast forward 20 years –
that is not the same idea/dream that my husband had for our family.
and it turns out that raising “just” five kids is decently challenging on a daily basis.

we did not agree on growing our family by adopting and i felt that the door was shut on discussing it furthur.
i prayed often for God to change him (ha ha ha!) but that if that wasn’t the best plan that he would change me so that we were both on the same page and growing together.  (as if God needs my help…)
i would pray those words but at the same time i couldn’t imagine how the desire to help a child find a home would NOT be what God would want.
i wasn’t discontent with my family as it was – i just felt a strong pull towards helping kids in need on top of caring for my children at home.
foster care didn’t really enter my mind for the same reasons it probably hasn’t entered many people’s minds –
“it would be too hard.”  “i would get too attached.”  “i couldn’t give them back”
but after the door was closed (and locked?) on the adoption discussion… God began to change my heart.
He opened my eyes and heart to fostering in a whole new way.

i was driving by myself, i turned onto the gravel road just before our home and i had this thought so clearly “you CAN give them back.  your kids are nearly grown.  you don’t want to start completely over.  a baby becomes a toddler.  you CAN do this!”
it felt like God was saying He would be with me and that it was time.
the fear of foster care that i had experienced up to that day was GONE.
i felt peace about it.  i felt confident in the Lord’s timing.
but… there are two people in this marriage.
over the next few months i brought up becoming a foster family several times and talby & annie did too.
they had been askting us to adopt or foster for many years.
when i would bring it up i kept going back to these points – we are loving parents.  we have a stable home.  we have enough money.  we have enough time to help.
then one day while we were out on a walk he said “i guess if you really want to look into it – go ahead.”
happy tears came to my eyes because that sentence was HUGE!!!
game changing sentence!

i set out on my quest to find out about foster care in my area.
i talked to several foster moms over the phone.
i met with two different agencies to see what is involved and how to get started.
since i was so new to all of this, i asked if it was even a possibilty to only take in certain ages… is that allowed?
the answer was yes we could choose the ages of children we were willing to foster.
with our schedule as busy as it is i felt that taking in babies under one year was the best option for us.
babies go where you go and don’t really mind eating or sleeping anywhere.
and i truly love caring for babies!

after about two months of checking around we had our first meeting with one of the social workers for our agency.
it did not go the way i had hoped.
i was totally ready to get going but my husband was having a serious case of cold feet.
the social worker basically told us everything that could go wrong.
every. possible. thing.
it was pretty grim when you looked at it from that side.
i understand that she had to be realistic and honest about what we were getting ourselves into.
but i kept saying “now let’s remember… that situation wouldn’t happen with a baby” to bring us all back from scarytown.
but at the end he wouldn’t even schedule the next meeting.
i know my husband well enough that i did not bring up that meeting or foster care again for almost four weeks!
he likes to think about things very thoroughly.
he plans and saves and prepares and takes his time.
we are complete opposites.  🙂

we went on a date on new years day 2017 and over dinner i worked up the nerve to ask “can we talk about foster care again?”
i wasn’t afraid of him – i was afraid of the door being closed again… that i had gotten my hopes up for nothing.
i asked what he was having the most trouble with and in the end it was my heart being broken – that it would be too much for me emotionally.
he knows me & i love that.
i have soooo many feelings.
and i cry A LOT.
all my emotions – happy, sad, nervous, tired, angry, inspired, empathy – they all come with a side of crying in my world.
it’s annoying but i can’t make it stop.

i assured him that i was going to be ok.
i had the peace and confidence from God that this was the path to pursue.
he said he knew all his reasons to say no were not good reasons – too busy, too tired,  not wanting to be woken up at night, past that stage of raising kids, wanting to go on trips with just me, or last minute date nights, etc. etc.
i can’t remember exactly what i said but this is close:
“i know you are worried that i will break but i am not afraid of that.  I feel ready for this.
one positive thing about foster care is that it is not permanent.  if it’s not a good fit for our family then we can stop!
if we do not do this then WHO WILL?! why do we expect anyone to help these kids if WE do not?
we are good parents with big hearts.  we have the space in our home.  we have the time and enough money.
because we are too busy?  because it might hurt too much?  because we will get too attached?
God does not call us to live in fear of being hurt.  God calls us out and says he will be alongside us when we struggle and when we hurt.
he will carry that for us.  it will be hard, our hearts will hurt but we will be okay.
even if the worst thing does happen – God will be there with us.
there are kids that need people to love on them.

he said he’d do it for me.
he is a protector and wants to keep all of his people away from harm of any kind.
i am so grateful for that amazingly comforting quality because i always feel safe with him.
but we also need to push through the fears and allow God to be our protector with hard stuff.
we can’t save ourselves.  we can’t plan everything.  we can’t control life and feelings and all of the outcomes.
i am not saying craig doesn’t want that too… i am saying he is more cautious than i am.  🙂

we started the MAPP classes shortly after that night.
to become licensed for any type of foster care (at least in kansas) you have to complete the MAPP classes.
these classes are free and usually provude childcare.  we actually found an agency near us that came to our home and taught the classes privately because we live over 25 miles from a group class.  That was so wonderful for us and our ridiculous schedule!

over the course of these classes i watched my husband’s heart soften & open up, seeing families in crisis in a whole new way.
i am pretty sure i’ve never been more attracted to him then when he was completing his MAPP homework!
🙂

it took us from January – September to complete the class, the home inspection and receive our license.
that timeline was mostly because our schedule/calendar is so full. It may not take others that long to finish.
we chose to be a foster family not foster-to-adopt.
we are licensed for 2 children ages 0-5 but plan to focus on infants.
there were several things we needed to do to pass the home inspection but nothing ridiculous… just precautions you’d want others to take if they had your child in their care like baby gates, handrails and cabinet locks.

i said no to four placements before we said yes to Tiny.
i hated saying no to helping any children but i have to think of what would be best for my family too.
going into this i knew we needed clear boundaries and to give myself permission to say no.
i prayed God would make it clear when it was the right fit and he did.
i was at a high school volleyball game when i got the call for Tiny.
and that was it – there was no hesitency – “YES we will take him!”
we drove to target after the game to buy a carseat, diapers & formula.
At 9:30 pm we picked up this itty bitty baby and drove him back to our home.
it was completely surreal.

and now here we are four months later!
i am so incredibly happy that we are on this new adventure of learning to love in new ways.
we knew this placement could possibly be many months and of course YES we are all attached to him!
but isn’t that the only way to be?! especially with an infant?!
we have to be all in – full hearts!  this is such a crucial time for development in his life!
we have to love him with all we’ve got while he’s here.
when we bring children into our home they need to know that they’re important and worth our time and energy.
they need to feel safe.
we can’t change the situation that caused them to be in put into care.  we can’t take away the past.  we can’t guarantee the future.
but while they are here with us – we can love them and provide safety & security.

everyone asks me everywhere i go “are you going to adopt him?”
most children in foster care have families that want to be together but mom or dad need some time to get out of a tough spot, learn new parenting skills, need help to get back on their feet or tools to deal with addiction.
foster care allows the children to be cared for while those things are happening for the parents.
the goal is to help keep families together… getting kids back with their parents whenever possible.
if after all measures have been attempted and the parents are still not able to provide a safe home then more permanent decisions begin to made.
of course there are cases that are severe and reuniting with parents shouldn’t happen at all for the children’s safety.
so… foster care does not automatically mean every child is up for adoption.
a foster parent needs to be a team player in reunification with the parents, supporting the efforts parents are making and be willing to see that people can change.
it is not always easy but if it all works… it’s worth it.

since this is our first placement, it’s all new to me – the ins and outs of the system, the visits, court dates and all these feelings.
the “ending” is unknown and i wrestle with the not knowing.
but you know what?  the “ending” is unknown for ALL of us.
we fool ourselves into thinking we know what’s going to happen with our families.
we have an illusion of control but nothing is certain.
so i pray about all of it.
it’s all in God’s hands.  He already knows about all of it.  He knows.

i am sharing all of this here not to make you think i am so great for helping kids or that craig isn’t great for not wanting to do this in the beginning.
which is funny now because he is so totally goo-goo over Tiny!  He is definitely not “doing this for me” anymore.
he’s participating whole heartedly.
he told me “you can write on your blog that i wasn’t always on board” before i even asked.
i am sharing the whole story so that you see that we struggled to get here.
it was not a quick or easy decision.
but we are both so blessed by getting to care for Tiny these past four months.

the REAL reason i want to talk publicly about any of this is because the need for fostering is SO BIG!
there are over 7000 kids in foster care in kansas right now and no where near enough homes for them.
i am guessing your state is no different.
wouldn’t it be amazing if foster parents were on a waiting list for kids… instead of kids waiting for a home?!
foster care can look many different ways too.
there is long term placement, short term, strictly overnight care for kids that don’t have their placement family yet, respite care to give foster parents a break for a weekend, emergency care that is needed immediately or you could be a CASA volunteer which is where you would advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the legal and social service system.

you can be married or single, stay home or work full time, have your own children or not, college degree or not, home owner or not… kids need you!

i’ll be answering more foster care questions from Instagram followers in my next post.
but feel free to ask questions in the comments here as well.

and here are some scenes around our house since Tiny entered our lives…

Dana - LOVE THIS! I am so happy to finally hear the whole story of how Tiny came to be and what you said was so true. If we aren’t willing to do it, who is? I have 2 adopted brothers and they were abused by their foster parents after having horrible starts with their biological parents. We need to step up! You are right- it is worth the heartache. Off to pray now…Oh, and I knew we were alike in many ways! What you said about the emotions and crying…totally me! (and probably a lot of other women, but still. 🙂 ) Sometime if you get time in your busy schedule, I would love to hear your thoughts on teens and backtalk/disrespect and if it gets better after a certain age or if you’ve found ways to make it better? We have a lot of kids as well and this teenager stuff has thrown us for a loop!

tere - Much of the first paragraph resembled me. Thank you for sharing your foster story here. God knew that your patience and passion would lead you to Tiny. You inspire me in so many ways. All my love.

Megan - So great to hear from someone advocating for foster parenting but being real about the realities of it at the same time. I work for a public children services agency and the need is great! My husband and I adopted three from foster care, and I wonder if down the line we might be open to fostering again. The thought of having a precious little thing like your Tiny in my home for awhile makes me what to think about it!

Amy jupin - Proud, proud, proud!
And I love the pic of Tiny with craig!
And of his rainbow name tag!
Love you and your big ol’ heart!!

Alice H - Foster care is on my heart and has been for awhile. My youngest son (just turned 8) always tells me “you don’t have to be the perfect parent to be a foster parent” because he has seen that on a billboard and then he follows it up with “you aren’t a perfect mom, can we foster?” LOL! My 17 year old son isn’t very big on it but I think eventually his heart would soften as well. I have a daughter in college. I think it is great what you and your family are doing for Tiny. Thanks for sharing.

Kristin S - Meg, thank you so much for sharing this!

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new year!!

2017 in photos.
🙂

Kimberly Dial - So awesome! It’s January 19 & I’m just now watching this. Happy 2018 Meg to you & your family. May it be the best year ever!

Deb - Wonderful 2017 and enjoy your 2018!!

Lori - P.S. What song did you use for this video? Thanks!

Lori - I loved this so much that I watched it twice! Watching your life and family through happy, rainbow photos has been a joy for years! 🌈 Happy New Year, Meg!

amy jupin - the one thing i love soooooo much about your blog, your fam, your video, is that you always inspire me to pick up my camera and look for the GOOD. it’s everywhere, in every situation, in everything. thank you for reminding me again. i love you megan duerksen!

Amy - How lovely, that’s a lucky baby to be with such a wonderful family.
Much love xx

meg duerksen - Melissa – we are foster parents for that sweet baby. 🙂

Melissa Ann - I noticed a cute baby in the pics. Congratulations on becoming a grandma!

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GIFT GUIDE FOR THE LADIES

Colorful Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs
Cute Mug

Rainbow Glass Windchime

Starbucks Gift Card is always a treat to me

Hollywood Fashion Tape
this is the best… i use it allllllll the time to keep my button up shirts from gapping open at my chest
or to keep a sweater in place or even fix a hem quickly.

Desk Donut Pin Holder


Fitbit Charge 2 – Heartrate + Fitness Wristband
High Waisted Leggings
these are MY FAVORITE leggings!!

Funny Oven Mits

Tasty Lastest & Greatest Cookbook
I love this website and all their videos of simple meals!


Fluted Bowls 

Striped Thermal Onesie Pajamas88 Matte Eye Shadow Palette
i saw this while out shopping today and reeeeeeally wished i had purchased it!
it’s so pretty!

The Curated Closet

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual

The DryBar Guide to Good Hair For All

Chevron Textrued Fleece Hooded Bathrobe

Sharpie Marker Set


Rain Boots in fun colors

Felt Letter Boards in 9 different colors
2018 Agenda Planner

Phone Case Wallet

Soft & Comfy Shirt with Pockets
Red & White 3 Piece Set Bowls


Rainbow Knife Set 
this is what i have at the Craft House and i love it so much!

Keurig Coffee Maker
i love my keurig! all the heart eyes for my keurig!
(and bonus – lowest price I’ve ever seen on this machine!)

Rainbow Colored Mug Set 
i MAY have ordered these for the Craft House…. how could i not?!


Essie Nail Polish
as much as I wish it weren’t true… the $9 nail polish really does last longer than the $3 polish.
so i use Essie pretty much all the time now.
Winter Infiniti Loop Scarf

Embroidered Mexican Peasant Blouse
this may not make it by christmas but i love these tops so much that i HAD to add the m to the list!

Katie Daisy 2018 Wall Calendar
everything Katie makes is absolutely dreamy!Reusable Grocery BagsRainbow Whisk Set 
Kisses from Katie               Daring to Hope                 Of Mess and Moxie                Falling Free
Church of the Small Things                     Gracelaced                          Unseen                        Dance Stand Run
None Like Him                   For the Love                 All the Pretty Things                  Braving the Wilderness
Fierce Hearted              The Turquoise Table             Never Unfriended           Becoming Mom StrongTattoos on the Heart            Barking to the Choir              Sing a New Song                100 Days to Brave

Lori - Love the cozy shirt and I may have to try those leggings!

Beth - Thank you, Meg. Your gift guides have been the best! I’m so excited to give some of these things. Merry Christmas!

Danielle H. - I always love your lists!! I agree about the Essie nail polish! I buy it at TJ Maxx for $3.99! They always seem to have some & good colors, too!

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gift guide for dudes


Heating & Cooling Car Seat Cover
One of my favorite features of our car is our heated seats for the winter but not every car has that…
Now you can!

Golf Ball Mug


Putter Cup Mug

Suzy Kusy Beer Mitten 
Beer Glove Keeps Your Drink Cold and Your Hand Warm


Beard Trimming Kit
the apron/cape suctions to the mirror to keep the mess all in one spot for easy clean up!


Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum
great for small projects like vacuuming the car!

Star Trek Goodies  –  Sunshade for car   –   Air Freshner   –   Socks  –   T-shirt   –  Mug  –  Spock Ears

Sound Bar
we have these set up on our tvs at our house… mr. duerksen loves the sound.
he’s given them as gifts as well so it’s definitely a good guy gift!

Leather & Canvas Messenger Bag

Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo has been used everyday at our house for over two years.
EVERY SINGLE DAY!
we love it – we have several and they’re programmed to work together – we even one one outside!

Work Gloves


Team Logo Baseball Caps – adustable fit

Hi-Resolution Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor
this would be a GREAT gift!
It has photo & video playback, turns on when you enter the room and off when you leave, plays your photos instantly and comes with a remote, clock calendar and stereo speakers

Basketball Hoop Mug


Leaf Claws

College Team Slipcover for Sofa, Chair, Loveseat or Recliner

Portable Stainless Steel BBQ Grilling Basket

Electric Digital Smoker
we have this smoker and its been fun (and yummy!) for mr. duerksen to learn lots about bbq and smoking meats!

Meat Claws
Easily lift, handle, shred and cut meats
we use these allllll the time! this could be one of my favorite tools in the kitchen!


LCD Multimedia Home Theater Video Projector
we have this in our “theater room” (aka: the basement) and we also bring it outside for movies against the back of house.


Heat Sensitive Color Changing Mug

Caffinated Shaving Cream & After Shave

Lightweight Sleeping Pad – great for camping

Magnetic Stud Finder


Yeti Rambler Travel Cup
these are THE BEST travel cups!  Your coffee stays piping hot for hours!!!

Zero Gravity Chair
these are really comfortable for lounging outside and easy enough to bring with you to events as well.

Dewalt Drill
this is the drill we have at our house and it’s been such a GREAT purchase!
Magnetic Phone Mount for Dashboard
these are wonderful!
we have these in our cars and they have made dealing with maps & music & calls in the car so much better!

Pajama Pants

Circular Saw Pizza Wheel
the perfect pizza cutter for manly men… ha ha ha.


Funny Desk Sign

Presidential Socks
my husband loves all things history so these could be a big hit for him!Ring Security Camera with 2-Way talk and Siren
Audible Membership
access to the world’s largest library!


Movie Theater Gift Card

Lisa - Those pajama bottoms are 20% off. Thank you, Meg and Amazon!

Danielle - Thanks for saving my butt – a few of these are just perfect for my husband! We’re taking a trip instead of gifts, but we are doing stockings, and they kind of slipped my mind…So here I am shopping for 6 kids and a husband quick!

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